Denise Li, Marriage, Opinions, Relationships

Grandeur Frightens Me Or, Why I’ll Be Having My Wedding At My Neighbourhood Pub – Denise Li

When I get married, I want to make sure it’s as stress-free an affair as possible. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

Also, I won't be having bridesmaids.

Also, I won’t be having bridesmaids.

Like most engaged women, I spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming about my perfect wedding. It will be beautiful … I will be wearing a gorgeous short white dress, the playlist will be personally handpicked by me and my fiance Alain, my nearest and dearest friends will all be there tossing back a craft beer, or a few.

Except that over the years of attending countless weddings at hotel ballrooms – all beautiful in their own right – I decided that it’s really not for me, or us, as it were, as Alain seems to be in full agreement with me on this.

As someone who is decidedly not detail-oriented (except when I absolutely have to be, like at work), planning a wedding on such a grand scale, where I have to worry about everything from invitation cards to flower arrangement, to what sort of glassware is appropriate for the occasion, represents my ultimate worst nightmare.

True, I could engage a wedding planner to take care all of that for me but fact is, the responsibility of taking care of things such as the guestlist ultimately still falls on me and my partner. And as far as guestlists go, I’d really hate to have to think about whether I need to invite that fifth grandaunt I haven’t seen for five years to bear witness to my big day.

Beyond the guestlist though, there are a number of other reasons I will be eschewing a hotel ballroom wedding for a party held at The Cider Pit (said neighbourhood bar).

1. Cost

There are many things I dream about spending $10,000 on; like being able to live for months on end in Thailand or one extravagant trip to the Bahamas. Heck, I’d even much rather use the money to invest in a Rolex watch (those things only appreciate in value, I heard). Some people think I’m crazy for wanting to mark my big day at a cheap bar where you can get a decent pint for $10. Let me throw the question back to these people by saying: isn’t it crazier to spend that kind of money for ONE night in which you won’t be having that much fun anyway because you’re fretting about dress changes, or making a speech, or a hundred other things that the bride’s expected to do? I mean, you can’t even enjoy the food right until the end of the night when you’ve shaken the hand of your last guest. Okay, you might argue, but the angpows you’ll be receiving will cover the cost. Ugh. That line of reasoning bugs me sooooo much, which brings me to the next point …

I'll be wearing a dress like this at my pub wedding ... paired with a pair of motorcycle boots. All the better to drink and move around in!

I’ll be wearing a dress like this at my pub wedding … paired with a pair of motorcycle boots. All the better to drink and move around in!

2. The shittiness of ang pow politics

Don’t throw a grand party only because you think you can “cover the cost” or worse, PROFIT from it! If you have the means to pay for the whole thing on your own, by all means, THROW THE PARTY. But I’ve always thought it was in bad faith to expect your guests to cough up upwards of $100 to cover the cost of their seat at the wedding. It creates unnecessary stress – and trust me, resentment – for the guests who might not have the means to do so. I once went to a wedding where the couple’s friends, who were at the reception, actually MARKED the angpows so the couple will know exactly how much each guest gave. That just left a terribly bad taste in my mouth. See, the last thing I want is for the people I love to stress about how much to give me. I just want them to come, get tipsy at the open bar, dance, and have fun. Shocking, I know.

3. The cliched-ness of it all

I really don’t like the idea of “packages”. Sure, many hotels give the illusion of choice – menu A and menu B, and so on. But at the end of the day, it’s still a set package. In the same way that you go on a packaged tour knowing exactly what sights you’re going to see, hotel weddings will all inevitably have that “same-ness” about them. There is usually no sense of the couple injecting their own personalities into the whole shindig. And it’s THEIR big day! Maybe some people like the predictability of the proceedings – not me though. My relationship and everything we’ve been through together … it all has a special place in my heart. So, when we seal the union officially, I don’t see why it has to done in the same way it has been done by so many couples before me.

I know … most people say that hotel ballroom weddings are “for the parents”. But … have you ever tried reasoning with them? Why does the shadow of your parents loom so large over your life that you feel that you have to give up control over how your big day will go and who you want to invite?

My neighbourhood bar is a very special place to me. It’s somewhere that my friends, Alain, and I have spent countless hours catching up on life. I like the fact that when I stop by, I can have a chat and share a joke with the owners. I like that it almost feels like home. I spent my last birthday there, I will celebrate my 31st birthday this year there once again, and I know that it will be an absolute riot, like it always is. To me, it’s the perfect destination to celebrate a huge life milestone. I won’t be sending out fancy invitation cards – just Facebook event invitations and Whatsapp messages. I’ll tell my friends that I don’t need an angpow from them – for them to make time to show up and party with us will be meaningful enough for me. People can arrive late if they want … the party starts with or without them, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.

Everybody wins, and nobody’s budget gets busted. I can’t wait to get married.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Obviously, she’s also a fan of verbal sparring. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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